Sunday, 15 June 2014


2 Kings 2v
9When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?”
“Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit,” Elisha replied.
10“You have asked a difficult thing,” Elijah said, “yet if you see me when I am taken from you, it will be yours—otherwise, it will not.”
11As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. 12Elisha saw this and cried out, “My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!”
13Elisha then picked up Elijah’s cloak that had fallen from him and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. 14He took the cloak that had fallen from Elijah and struck the water with it. “Where now is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” he asked. When he struck the water, it divided to the right and to the left, and he crossed over.

When Elisha picked up Elijah's cloak, it was more than the accepting of a calling. Really, the calling had been well before that, when Elijah came to him and called him because of God's direction. When Elisha picked up the cloak of Elijah, he accepted something more important than his call, and that was the acceptance of a life lived close to hearing the voice of the Lord (for from the hearing of His voice, the call became a reality and effectual). That is the reason Elijah, when he heard Elisha's request for a 'double portion' of his spirit, said, 'You've asked a difficult thing'. Hearing the voice of the Lord isn't easy; it is revelation both sweet and bitter, as it is sweet to the spirit but often bitter to the flesh, and always involves the need to follow after Christ wherever He goes (and that is always to death first, then to life- first the cross, then the resurrection life- first the dying to self, then the living because of, and for, God):

'I took the little scroll from the angel's hand and ate it. It tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it, my stomach turned sour.' -Rev 10v10

The following after the Lord in the closest sense upon this earth, is the most rewarding, yet most difficult of things. It necessitates a leaving behind of the world, just as Elisha followed Elijah and was often a sojourner; not having just one residence or just one destination. Elisha and Elijah did not identify in any strong sense with the culture of the world or what it loved, and this made them strangers to both it and even to much of Israel at the time. This would've often meant that, because they were obviously human, they would've felt out of place, disconnected and often strange because of how others saw them. The opinions of others and even 'Christians' would've often been heaped against them and they would've been excluded from most people because of the word they brought because of what they heard from the Lord. The word of the Lord is described in the Bible as a fire, and so there wouldn't have been many that could've abided or even liked to be around such men because it would've cost them too much and made them feel too uncomfortable. One of the first reactions Elisha encountered in his ministry was a group of youths who taunted him. They were obviously people who had made up their minds about Elisha and what he did. This was not taken lightly by the Lord or by Elisha (the youths were attacked and killed by bears), and neither should it by us. Woe to those who make light of and joke about the things of God, His way, and those that love those things! (they make themselves enemies of God!). You could just imagine how popular Elisha was after this, and what people would've said about him, but this was irrelevant to Elisha, he loved God, His Word and both His mercy and His justice.

Being close to the voice of the Lord means being close to hearing God speaking things both encouraging and things of warning. Hearing His voice is to hear Him speak love and grace, and also of future redemption and wrath for those that reject His sacrifice, and of just things. Elijah, Elisha and all of those of His people who wish to know Him, in the truest sense (in obedience, passion, life and sacrifice), will know what it means to walk the road Elijah and Elisha took. Yes, this is a road of purpose, power, life and passion, but make no mistake about it, it is often a lonely road, one of denial and discomfort, and one in which you are made to feel strange and the stranger, not only amongst the world, but amongst those that are Christians in only some senses or the base sense of the word. Such Christians are those that follow at a distance and often try to live in two camps:

Matt 26v58: But Peter followed him at a distance, right up to the courtyard of the high priest. He entered and sat down with the guards to see the outcome.

And many do just this so that they can not only enjoy Christ but enjoy as much of the world and those of the world, as possible. These are the ones who reject the road less travelled, and do so to their own injury; both to their lives and hearts, even as Peter broke his own heart by rejecting and denying Christ because of this following from a distance. People such as this 'watch to see the outcome' (v58) of Christlike lives (to see if they too want to follow whole-heartedly), but in the meantime become so much less fruitful and lukewarm because of this life which is more of a watching and waiting than a living in truth (much of their grace that is received is done so in vain). Furthermore, they watch and follow at distance because it means that they won't have to suffer as much as those that follow Christ closely. This was just like Peter, who hoped to not be caught by the Pharisees (at the time just before Christ's death) and so hoped to avoid sharing in Christ's fate and sufferings. At the same time he aligned himself with the world, and he put himself in gave danger spiritually However, thanks be to Jesus who interceded for Peter and saved Peter from himself! We are all called to take this road less travelled, because it is not a road set aside just for those called to a particular service, but for all those called to follow Christ.

Elisha chose the road less travelled, and that meant that there weren't many that travelled with him. Likewise, if we too, take this road and truly follow Christ and His will, that will be something we suffer as well, but it will be well worth it in the end. One thing that can certainly be guaranteed for those that may be lonely and rejected (whether in a great or subtle sense) in this life because of taking this road of being close to the voice of the Lord and His will, is that we will not feel the same way when we reach our true home:

2 Peter 1v10Therefore, my brothers and sisters,a make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, 11and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

The often rejected and mistreated Elijah, a man who was made to be a stranger and treated as strange by much of the family of God (or those that claimed to be His family!), and who even was driven from the people of God altogether by the wicked Jezebel, was also a man who was given the greatest entrance to heaven any man ever received, being taken up to Heaven in a flame of fire and by the chariots and horsemen of Israel! This man, once so rejected and estranged from men and from God's people, was acknowledged and owned by God in the greatest way possible when he left this earth. By this, God showed humanity those men He loved and desired to honour, and also showed what He especially loved about His redeemed people . In honouring Elijah like this, God highlighted where His own heart lay. God is looking for a people who want to hear His voice, for this means they have a heart to follow Him and the road less travelled. God is looking for men who take pride in being separated from the heart and passions of the world. Not that God is wanting His people to not be in the world or be useful to the world (in our work and our service), but that He wants them to be lights to change the world. God wants a different people and a people who are willing to be different and to accept the cost that comes with walking such a road.

Elisha picked up the cloak of Elijah and so showed God that he desired the same road Elijah took (a road after and for God, in every sense of what that entailed). The question is, do we? Or are we content to live close to the heart of Baal and the heart of a lukewarm Christian family? This is a hard question to ask ourselves and if we desire to walk closely with the Lord, we desire and ask for a hard thing! In the end, Elisha made an incredible impact in the world for God, and yet most of the Christian nation of the time, didn't. That nation followed Christ from a distance because they weren't truly that comfortable and that in love with being that close to Christ. They also watched from a distance to see whether, in fact, Christ was who He really said He was (remember when Elijah called fire down from heaven to prove to His people who the true God was!). However, even when fire came, their hearts didn't turn. How long does it take our hearts to fully turn to Christ in every sense! The fire of God came upon the sacrifice of Christ Himself and thereby, God proved how pleased He was with a fully surrendered Christ-like life. In the same way, we are called to live that life. It is so very hard! But so very worth it! It is probably safe to say that both Elijah and Elisha knew as much of God, heard as much from Him and saw as much of His power as any Christian has who has walked this earth. The gracious prize for following the road less travelled, the one which Christ walks, is that we might know Him! And that is a prize that when we truly receive it, we'll never want to let it go. That is when, with Paul, we'll be able to say that we count all else as rubbish and all else as loss, that we might know Him!


There are times when, like the call of Peter, the Lord calls us out onto stormy waters. Besides everything else that concerns us about doing such a thing, is the often disheartening reality that this isn't for any practical reason. When Peter was called onto the stormy sea, he didn't actually achieve anything for the 'real world' around him (in that moment). There was no ministry opportunity or visible reason why the call he had been given was being given, he was simply wanting to get closer to Jesus and follow Him. However, the lack of a practical reason to walk on stormy waters shouldn't discourage us, as the practical reason will often follow the spiritual one. The spiritual one for Peter, and for us, is that in walking on stormy waters our faith will be tested, proven true, strengthened and grown, as well as our love for the Lord. We'll also be humbled, as we see our own weakness and inability, just as Peter did, and this is just as important as faith and love. All these things are the seeds through which good works come, and if we trust to the process, the often unfruitful one in a practical sense, we'll see the purpose in the end. 

After Peter walked, sunk and was pulled from the waters in more than one sense before the cross, after the cross he found himself in the midst of the first great outpouring of the Spirit and the start of the New Testament Church. From there, God always directed him and made him extremely useful, often in extraordinary ways. This use was both spiritual and practical, as God affected real change in the world and in countless people through his life and service. There was evidently a time of long and great frustration for Peter before this time of release and call, as there will be for us; times of seeming inactivity and failure in our weakness, learning and knowledge; however, such a humble and seemingly useless time is as necessary as the greatly fruitful one. Nothing is wasted with God, and our lives will eventually be the bread for His people that He designs them to be. Whether we see practical results or the ends of His working with us is irrelevant as Jesus isn't always going to tell us what He is preparing and He isn't going to connect the dots for us, for this would hinder the design of his plans with us in the present and undermine His gift and working of faith that He is moulding in us.

Saturday, 7 June 2014


2 Kings 2v11: As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. 12Elisha saw this and cried out, “My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!” And Elisha saw him no more. Then he took hold of his garment and tore it in two.

13Elisha then picked up Elijah’s cloak that had fallen from him and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. 14He took the cloak that had fallen from Elijah and struck the water with it. “Where now is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” he asked. When he struck the water, it divided to the right and to the left, and he crossed over.

There are times of loss or change when, like Elisha just after he lost Elijah to heaven, we too must take up the staff of prayer in a very particular way. After his great loss, Elisha cried out, 'Where now is the Lord, the God of Elijah?' (2 Kings 2v14). So we too enter times when we seem to have lost a great partnership with Heaven or a special grace or gift, and need to cry out, 'Where are you now, Lord?' Elisha had once had great friend and mentor, and revelation of Jesus Christ through the great prophet Elijah. Not only this but God, through Elijah, showed Elisha His great and miraculous power and ability to bring about great change in both himself and also His people around him. But there came a time when sovereignty decided both Elijah and all the grace that had benefitted Elisha through him, had to leave. We too at times are blessed with great friends, teachers and times where we see, in a particularly special manner, the power and presence of our Lord. But in like manner, we lose and will lose such times because of sovereign wisdom; God knowing what is best for us and others. Special graces leave us, and we too, like Elisha, are left with rivers to cross without more visible signs of His being with us. However, rather than crumbling, Elisha looked to the future, knowing that the purpose and presence of God would never leave him in the way it mattered most, and so, with eyes of faith and a heart full of determination, he took up the staff of prayer, and believed that he would see God move and make a way in whatever happened next. He believed that God would lead him to the next thing he had for him. In the same way, whatever gifts or graces seem to leave us, and whatever comforts may fall away, God will always be with His people in the way that matters most, despite whatever we lose, and He will lead us on to whatever purpose He has for us next. There is always the purpose and power of God for us (grace sufficient) in whatever stage of life we are in, and His presence is the same yesterday, today and forever. In going on with Him, He will go on with us. He is with us!